Welcome to this week’s round-up of all the action from WWE’s women’s divisions. Another mixed week for WWE’s women. The RAW roster, and to a slightly lesser extent the SmackDown roster, must be looking at NXT women’s division with envy. Not only do NXT’s women get more screen time and storylines, but their division feels important and vibrant in a way the main roster brands just don’t at the moment.
You will notice that there are no results listed under the show header. WWE’s flagship show didn’t feel the need to have an actual women’s division match this week. There was a small presence from the division, and a scheduled match, but it wasn’t a great week for RAW. Considering it was the first RAW of a brand-new decade, it’s a really poor showing.
Becky Lynch came out for a chat. I’m starting to wonder if she’s carrying an injury because we’ve seen a lot of promo and not much else from her recently. She said she’s been walking around for a month now wondering what kind of a champion she is. She let the doubters get to her and forced the powers that be to give her a rematch against Asuka at Royal Rumble, but she’s kind of doubting her wisdom on that one. Her life has changed so much in the last year. She’s been living on the road in a whirlwind. Over the holidays she finally got time to think about what it really means to be The Man. Should she be happy now she’s made all the history she said she was going to make? Should she be content being on the cereal boxes and the red carpets? Should she take the advice from the people backstage who are ‘just looking out for her’? Should she avoid the one woman she can’t seem to beat.
After footage of every time Asuka has beaten her, Lynch said that what she’d figured out in all of this is… and we never got to find out because Asuka appeared and shouted her way to the ring. She got into the ring ad started to shout at Lynch but she didn’t get very far before Becky Lynch punched her in the face and walked away.
There was a slight development in the Lana and Liv Morgan storyline, which is looking like it’s heading towards a mixed tag match. Rusev challenged Bobby Lashley to a match next week. Lana will be in Lashley’s corner, so Liv Morgan has volunteered herself to be in Rusev’s.
The scheduled match for the night was Charlotte Flair vs Sarah Logan. Logan jumped Flair before the bell, while Flair was being helped out of her robe. She kept the advantage for mere seconds before Flair came back at her, but she did manage to shove Flair into the ringpost and pound on her a bit at ringside. With Flair down, Logan decided to beat up the Flair’s robe instead, battering it against the canvas a couple of times and causing sequins and feathers to fly off then throwing it out of the ring.
When she looks back, she might decide that was an error. Charlotte Flair thoroughly beat her down and left her laying before putting the robe back on and walking away.
Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, & Toni Storm def. Bianca Belair, Io Shirai, and Kay Lee Ray
Mia Yim def. Kayden Carter
Rhea Ripley opened the show, to an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd, and said she’d never forget winning the title and celebrating on the fans’ shoulders. I’m sure she had more to say but she was interrupted by Toni Storm.
Storm congratulated Ripley and told her she’s proud of her. Then she reminded her that she’s beaten Ripley twice and said she’s going to win back her NXT UK title at NXT TakeOver Blackpool. She wants to become a double champion at Worlds Collide. As long as Rhea Ripley has the guts to accept.
Kay Lee Ray came out and told Storm that wouldn’t happen because Toni Storm isn’t taking her title or making it to Worlds Collide
Io Shirai arrived and made it very clear she thinks she should be number one contender. She was followed by Bianca Belair who told everyone in the ring she’s better than them.
Candice LeRae finished the group. Ripley said, ‘Let me guess, Candice, you want to fight too’ and when LeRae shrugged Ripley said, ‘so do I’. and smacked Belair in the face. LeRae went for Shirai and Storm for Kay Lee Ray.
Bianca Belair, Io Shirai and Kay Lee Ray were cleared from the ring and a tag match was declared. Candice LeRae reacted to the announcement with a suicide dive.
Rhea Ripley, Candice LeRae, & Toni Storm vs Bianca Belair, Kay Lee Ray, & Io Shirai
Unsurprisingly, looking at the talent in the ring, it was a very good match. For the time it actually functioned as a tag, it was Candice LeRae who took the brunt of the punishment for her team. Bianca Belair was the meanest during that time, allowing LeRae to think she would make it to tag out then cutting her off before she got there.
It broke down quickly after that. LeRae tagged out and Toni Storm came in against Kay Lee Ray, with some interference from Shirai which Storm cut off with a headbutt. LeRae was still down and Rhea Ripley had been taken off the apron by Bianca Belair by the time Io Shirai tagged in and started to prepare Storm for the finish.
Shirai ascended the turnbuckle to finish Toni Storm with a moonsault, and that’s when her team fell apart. Bianca Belair tagged herself in to steal the glory and put Storm across her shoulders for the K.O.D.. Before she could deliver it, she got taken out by a springboard dropkick from Shirai.
Belair was so busy watching Io Shirai yell at her that she didn’t see Rhea Ripley tag in until she was met with a big boot in the face. She never recovered after that and Ripley finished her off with a Riptide for the win.
There was a moment at the end of the match when Candice LeRae was holding the belt. She took just a few seconds too long to admire it before she handed it back to Ripley and raised her teammates’ hands. Looks were exchanged but the alliances remain intact for now.
Mia Yim vs Kayden Carter
I was surprised to hear Mauro Ranallo say that Carter has ever won a match on NXT, but that’s ok she’s got plenty of time. Mia Yim is flirting with the outskirts of the title picture, but she needed a win here. She got it, after a short but entertaining match, with Protect Ya Neck.
Once again, Carter looked good, and Mia Yim helped her up and gave her a hug at the end of the match. That was the moment Chelsea Green chose to attack them. Green left the ring to join a guy in a suit who announced the Robert Stone Brad is in NXT and Chelsea Green is its first signing.
Next week there will be an NXT Women’s Championship Number One Contender’s Battle Royal featuring Bianca Belair, Candice LeRae, Io Shirai, Mia Yim, Kayden Carter, Dakota Kai, Vanessa Borne, Xia Li, Santana Garrett, Shotzi Blackheart and Chelsea Green.
Shayna Baszler has not been mentioned. No demand for a rematch, no inclusion in the battle royal. It is plausible I missed an injury report, but it seems likely that Royal Rumble will mark her transition to either RAW or SmackDown, probably RAW. Goodness knows they need her.
At Worlds Collide Toni Storm will get her match against Rhea Ripley for the NXT title. We will find out at NXT TakeOver Blackpool whether she will be NXT UK Women’s Champion for that match.
This week’s NXT UK was a special pre-TakeOver show to build to Sunday’s NXT UK TakeOver Blackpool. It was just a collection of ‘story so far’ packages with footage of the interactions leading up to the match and all the competitors talking about how they got there and what it means to them. There was a little commentary of the significance of the matches from Nigel McGuinness as well. Piper Niven, Toni Storm, and Kay Lee Ray all spoke about their friendship over the years and what they think happened to get them to this point. It was all very well done and the NXT UK Women’s Championship match should be good enough on its own to make TakeOver worth watching.
Mandy Rose def. Alexa Bliss
Mandy Rose and Sonya Deville had a little locker room segment with Deville talking about the refocusing on them as a team. Rose was clearly distracted and told Deville she had something to take care of and she’d meet her out there. When Deville had gone Rose pulled out a big box and peeped inside. After a musical interlude from Elias, Rose presented the box to Otis. It had a big iced I’m Sorry cake in it.
Mandy Rose vs Alexa Bliss
Nikki Cross accompanied Alexa Bliss, and both declared themselves for the Royal Rumble match in a video clip during Bliss’ entrance. Sonya Deville accompanied Mandy Rose.
Rose took the interesting approach of heavily trash-talking Bliss in the first minute of the match, which only worked to ensure Bliss was properly fired up. Soya Deville got involved fairly rapidly by getting up on the apron. She kicked Cross away and Bliss knocked her off the apron, but it gave Mandy Rose the advantage off the distraction. She couldn’t capitalise though.
It was Otis who gave Mandy Rose the victory, by coming out to the stage with Heavy Machinery’s music playing. All he did was stood on the ramp and ate cake, but it distracted Alexa Bliss long enough for Bliss to roll her up and pin her.
Lacey Evans versus Sasha Banks didn’t happen. Lacey Evans came to the ring but Sasha Banks didn’t appear when her music played. Instead, Bayley appeared on the big screen and said Banks was AWOL. She got chance to go and finish recording her album, so she’s gone to LA to do that. Bayley is only there because she’s contractually obliged to be as the champion.
Evans grabbed a mic and said she wasn’t surprised Banks was a no show, played up to the crowd a bit and got them on side, then challenged Bayley to come and fight her instead. Bayley declined so Evans went backstage looking for her. Bayley was ready for her and beat on her a bit then told her to put on her mom jeans and go home. Evans got up as Bayley walked away and beat on Bayley until she was dragged away by an official.
That’s it for another week of WWE women’s division action. Join me next week for another instalment, and in the meantime follow @ArnFuriousCom to make sure you never miss a review. You can also follow me @manda_why.